Lochgilphead is the administrative centre of Argyll and Bute and lies at the head of Loch Gilp. It started life as a small fishing village and is now a popular tourist centre with various shops including a large Co-Op. But more importantly has a grand fish and chip takeaway and restaurant (The Argyll Cafe) in Argyll Street. The nearest camping site to allow exploration of the Crinan Canal is in Lochgilphead itself. The campsite is nicely set out with some fully serviced pitches. Its facilities are clean but in need of a remedial overhaul.
The site is only a very short distance from the towpath which runs from Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp in the east to Crinan and the Sound of Jura in the west providing a navigable route between the Clyde and the Inner Hebrides without the need for a long diversion around the Kintyre peninsula and the exposed Mull of Kintyre. The Canal is just over 9 miles long and has a total of 15 locks’ two of which are sea locks. Construction took place between 1793 and 1801with improvements made in 1816 and again between 1930 and 1932 when larger sea locks were constructed.
|Some interesting scenery from the canal.|
|Artist Fraser MacIver's studeo and living quarters.|
We divided out ride over two days to allow us to take in both the picturesque waterway and the surrounding countryside as well as the coastal areas at each end. The first day we travelled west along the towpath to Crinan Basin and Harbour. There you will find what look’s like a wee haven for leisure boats, a very grand hotel, a coffee shop and a boat yard where you could discover a 'Puffer' being renovated.
|Waiting for the water level to rise.|
|The sea lock at Crinan.|
|Out to sea.|
|Renovating the wee lighthouse.|
|Discovering some interesting boats.|
|Crinan Boat Yard.|
The following morning we cycled in the opposite direction, a journey, although not far, helped by the fact that it was a sunny and warm day. In this direction you have the choice of the towpath one side or a narrow quiet roadway the other. We did want to see a working 'Puffer' but was two late it had already sailed by the time we arrived! Ardrishaig is on the western shore of Loch Gilp and developed greatly after the building of the waterway. The Harbour was originally used by the herring industry but is now used for shipping timber from the Argyll forests to Ireland and Finland. It is a rather picturesque wee town with a very nice green area where in time gone by fishermen would lie out their nets to dry, in its centre stands a war memorial with a couple of benches were we enjoyed both the view and our picnic.
|Lock Number 3.|
|Ardrisaig sea lock.|
|Timber for Ireland and Finland.|